The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes
Series' latest tale of horror is interactive nightmare fuel.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is an interactive horror adventure available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows based PCs. This is the third installment of the Dark Pictures Anthology series. The game's set during the events of the Iraq War and follows a small group of people that find themselves trapped in the ruins of lost Sumerian temple buried in the Middle Eastern desert. Players follow the interconnected stories of the characters, making dialogue choices and following (or not following) onscreen prompts to direct the course of actions. The game's a horror story that features a lot of brutal violence and gruesome imagery, with blood and gore regularly shown onscreen. The characters' dialogue is rife with strong profanity, as well as some occasional references to sex, drinking, and smoking.
Intense, well written horror adventure places the lives of characters in your hands
Report this review
What’s It About?
THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: HOUSE OF ASHES is the third entry in the Dark Pictures Anthology series of interactive tales of terror. This time, the enigmatic Curator regales players with the story of an elite military unit at the closing moments of the Iraq War investigating a suspected chemical weapons facility hidden deep in the Arabian Desert. While being ambushed by Iraqi forces, things go from bad to worse when the ground beneath them opens up and swallows them whole. Now, friend and foe alike find themselves separated and stranded in the underground ruins of a lost Sumerian temple. They aren't the only ones trapped with the walls of these ruins, though. An ancient evil has been awakened and bloodthirsty creatures lurk in the shadows, picking off the soldiers one by one. As the group attempts to survive and free themselves from their subterranean prison, feeling of suspicion, betrayal, and rage rise to the surface. What happens next lies in your hands, with your choices determining the fate of these lost souls. And the consequences of your choices will be felt throughout the tale, determining who lives and who dies … and whether or not they escape alone. You can play the story solo or join with a friend online as the two of you play the story from different perspectives, with the choices in one player's story directly affecting the course of events in the other's. Or, you can have a Movie Night with up to five people, alternating control of the narrative and watching how the will of the collective plays out onscreen. While the Curator may collect these dark fables, in the end, each story is yours to tell.
Is It Any Good?
When watching a horror movie, viewers often yell at poor souls on the screen to convince them to do anything else besides what will inevitably get them killed at any moment. The basic premise behind The Dark Pictures Anthology and its latest chapter, House of Ashes is: what if the movie victims that are usually resigned to their fates actually listened to what you had to say? While there are gameplay elements involved, this is more of an interactive "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of story, where most of the players' time is spent watching events unfold. House of Ashes improves on the previous entries in the series with things like an improved game camera. There are also longer periods of player interactions, like exploring a character's surroundings for clues or solving puzzles. What's even better is that the added gameplay never feels forced. It's not some random task thrown in just to give players something to do, but rather it feels like some obstacle that fits within the natural narrative of the plot.
Each tale in the Curator's collection from The Dark Pictures Anthology is a bit different from the others, from Man of Medan's ghost ship to the witchcraft tale of Little Hope. House of Ashes continues this trend with its full-on creature feature vibe. There's no subtlety in the scares this time around, which fits perfectly with the game's setting and characters. The multipath storytelling is still the series' greatest strength and biggest weakness at the same time. You never know exactly how a decision made early on might adversely affect events much later. And once you do see the consequences of your choices play out, replaying the adventure to try for a different outcome means long periods of repetition before getting to the point where you can try something new. Shared Story and Movie Night modes both make a return appearance, allowing players to share the drama with friends in either online or couch co-op play. Shared Story is still the best, with players seeing the events unfold from new perspectives, and both modes make for interesting interactions with friends. But as frustrating as it might be to accept your own choices leading to an adverse outcome, it's doubly so when your friends' character decisions or performance in Quick Time Events yank the story even further out of your control. Even so, it still makes for an entertaining twist on the standard movie night.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about choice and consequences. How can decisions made in the heat of the moment have repercussions later down the line? What are some ways to help make constructive decisions quickly?
What are some reasons people enjoy horror in movies, games, etc.? Why do we sometimes like to be scared, and is there something positive to be taken from the experience?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Release date: October 22, 2021
- Genre: Survival Horror
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mild Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Intense Violence
- Last updated: October 22, 2021
Our Editors Recommend
The Blackout Club
Terrifyingly fun, random co-op horror experience.
Five Nights at Freddy's 4
Jump-scare-packed finale hits home.
Call of the Sea
Colorful mystery features straightforward solutions.
For kids who love scares
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate